If a new direction is indeed afoot at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the New York Department of Financial Services is apparently ready to fill the void.
Earlier this week, CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney sent out a memo to all the bureau’s employees, laying out his vision for the how the CFPB should operate.
In the memo, which was obtained and released by investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica and subsequently published as an op-ed by Mulvaney in the Wall Street Journal, the acting director states that the bureau will much kinder and gentler under his watch.
“We are government employees, and we work for the people,” Mulvaney wrote.
“That means everyone: those who use credit cards and those who provide the credit; those who take out loans and those who make them; those who buy cars and those who sell them,” Mulvaney continued. “All of those people are part of what makes this country great, and all of them deserve to be treated fairly by their government. There is a reason Lady Justice wears a blindfold and carries a balance scale along with her sword.”
Mulvaney goes on to write that the CFPB “bringing the full weight of the federal government down on the necks of the people we serve” should be something that is only done “reluctantly,” and only when “all other attempts at resolution” fail.
Combine Mulvaney’s mission statement with the CFPB’s recent move to reconsider every way that it functions and many observers are wondering how much consumer protection the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be engaging in going forward.
One of those questioning the CFPB’s new mission is the NYDFS, New York’s top financial regulator.
In a statement released Thursday, NYDFS Superintendent Maria Vullo said that the agency is prepared to step in to address the CFPB’s “troublesome policy shift away from consumer protection.”
In her statement, Vullo said that the NYDFS will protect New York residents even if the CFPB does not.
“Since its founding, the CFPB has been a strong and vital partner with the New York State Department of Financial Services and state regulators nationwide on many important consumer protection issues,” Vullo said in a statement.
“I am disappointed by the new administration’s sudden policy shift, which is clearly intended to undermine necessary national financial services regulation and enforcement,” Vullo said. “DFS remains committed to its mission to safeguard the financial services industry and protect New York consumers, and will continue to lead and take action to fill the increasing number of regulatory voids created by the federal government.”
The NYDFS was founded in 2011, when New York combined its State Banking Department and Insurance Department into one agency.
The NYDFS rose to prominence under its original leader, Ben Lawsky, and has continued to strictly regulate the financial services industry in New York since Vullo took over in 2016.